In 2017, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans was considered food-insecure. For San Francisco, it was nearly 1 in 4. Food insecurity is different than hunger. A person or family experiencing food insecurity lacks financial resources to ensure access to an appropriate amount of nutritious food. These families may or may not be “hungry” – the personal physical sensation that arises without an intake of calories – but they are unable to consistently obtain quality, healthy food. The Gujral Community Fund recognizes this troubling data and has identified local organizations who are trying to alleviate food insecurity.
Food insecurity is not a stand-alone problem. According to Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the US, “[Hunger] does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping issues like affordable housing, social isolation, health problems, medical costs, and low wages. Many do not have what they need to meet basic needs and these challenges increase a family’s risk of food insecurity.”
To complicate the issue further, merely having access to food does not mean families are receiving proper nutrition. Often the most inexpensive foods are calorie-rich but nutrient poor. Eating this food will keep people from being technically hungry, but their bodies are unable to prevent disease or maintain energy and focus throughout the day. Children, especially, suffer physically, emotionally, and socially when they lack a nutritious and steady diet.
A poor diet manifests in many ways. People can feel irritable and lack the ability to concentrate. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed. Obesity and illness are also an outcome, leading to more missed days of school or work, which further exacerbates the cycle of food insecurity. Our bodies do not perform their best without proper nutrition. Children are unable to focus in school. Parents are forced to miss work to care for themselves or a family member. The cycle is vicious and unrelenting.
Many local organizations exist to help address the problems that lead to food insecurity and malnutrition, from food pantries such as the SF Marin Food Bank, and the CUESA that operates farmer’s markets throughout the city and offers nutrition education for kids and adults, to organizations such as the John Burton Advocates for Youth that focus on ending food insecurity for at-risk citizens. In San Francisco, the Parks and Recreation Department helps to coordinate and manage community gardens to supplement the availability of fresh and nutritious produce within our urban neighborhoods. Contributions to these organizations bolster their programs and directly increase their positive impact for our neighbors who need help the most.
Please join the Gujral Community Fund in supporting the work of these organizations and help us end food insecurity for San Francisco families.